“God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, He took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. The Lord God then built the rib that He had taken from the man into a woman” (Genesis 2:21-22).
Why was Eve created from Adam’s rib, right next to his heart? If she were created from his head, she would rule over him. If from his feet, he would be her master. If from his loins, he would be her father. So God created her from his heart, that they would live with one another as equals, and share the deepest communion of feelings and desires.
“A soldier thrust his lance into His side, and immediately blood and water flowed out” (John 19:34). The Church was born of the blood and water — the Eucharist and Baptism — flowing from the heart of Christ. It is from the side of the new Adam that the new Eve (meaning “mother of all the living”) was created. This new Eve is the spotless bride of Christ, who receives the love of His sacrifice and distributes it to her children through the sacraments (Ephesians 5:21-33). Who is this bride, exactly? All those who receive the fruit of Jesus’ sacrifice, whether in heaven, in purgatory or on earth, by baptism. We share in the activity of the Church as bride when we receive Jesus’ love.
The full dignity of our corporate vocation to receive His love becomes clear in light of Genesis. We have each been baptized as children of God, but “what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2). We are being prepared to share in the desires, feelings and thoughts of the bridegroom so that we can live as His equal in the glory of heaven: “[Jesus sanctifies] her … that He might present to Himself the Church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27).
Throughout history, certain women have embodied the femininity of the Church. Our Blessed Mother does so preeminently (see Lumen Gentium, 16), yet God has also called forth other women to reveal to His Church the splendor of becoming the bride. Women living out the bridal charism reveal the uniquely feminine form of holiness, which is the very nature of our Church.
Father Charlie Archer is associate pastor of St. Peter Parish in Kirkwood.